EU "re-routing to your final destination at the earliest opportunity" following cancellation


Junior Member
Oct 10, 2021
hi folks,

I have an economy multi-city ticket with Qatar TLS (Toulouse in France) to DOH for tomorrow, then DOH to SYD on Sunday.

The flight tomorrow has just been cancelled due to an air traffic controller strike in France.

Qatar are saying their next available flight is on the 28th, which doesn't help me as I have a meeting in Doha on the 27th for which there other party is flying in, so I need to get there on the 26th. They're also confusingly saying they can book me to Sydney on 30th, which is no use at all.

When they say their next available flight is on the 28th, they mean their next direct flight operated by them.

There are plenty of flights available on their own site on the 26th, just not direct. They all involve partner airlines for either the first leg or the whole trip.

They're telling me they can't book me on these flights without me paying the fare difference.

My cancelled flight originates in France so is governed by EU law, which I think is this: Air passenger rights - Your Europe.

I thought this meant they had to be book me on the earliest available flight, but would appreciate any advice from anyone with more knowledge or experience.


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oh, they also helpfully told me they had a flight from Barcelona at the same time tomorrow. I pointed out that Barcelona and Toulouse are in different countries, they said something about within five hundred miles.

On that screenshot above the first flight, the TLS-MAD with Iberia then MAD-DOH with Qatar, is the one they offer as their standard flight from TLS-DOH on Fridays.
Unfortunately the regulation is not more specific about what "re-routing to the same destination at the earliest opportunity (under comparable conditions)" means in relation to other carriers.

The Regulation is silent as to whether the obligation extends to putting you on any flight, including other airlines’ flights.

Airlines seem take the view that they are only obliged to re-route you on their own services: rerouting on another airline is not a legal obligation.

There does not seem to be any authoritative court result on this issue so this is a grey area.
The air traffic controllers strike is no airlines problem. It’s the French industrial system …

They can’t overcome the mass cancellation of flights at the flash of a wand despite how much we hope they could

So 75% of flights cancelled with passenger loadings to boot don’t go into the 25 % still flying.

Probably best offer is train 🚆 to Barcelona and fly to Doha from there
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thanks folks. No of course it's not their fault, the French love a good strike (fun fact, the French used to call strikes "la maladie anglaise!"). I wasn't after compensation, just a way to get to Doha by two days later.

They sell tickets for every day but don't fly direct all days, the Iberia to Madrid then Qatar to Doha flight is the one they offer as their standard ticket on Fridays, for the same price as their direct flights on other days (when I booked).

I did indeed look into Barcelona but the train times were not doable (I'm not in Toulouse, just flying from there). Best option was a cheap Turkish Airlines ticket via Istanbul the next day for under 500 euro, but that left me with issues regarding the final leg of my Qatar multicity ticket getting from Doha to Sydney.

It's that "grey area" I wanted advice on, what they're required to do under the much-vaunted EU regulations.

Subsequent to my original post they unilaterally moved my flight to the 28th.

A flight four days later doesn't seem very reasonable. One CSR told me their policy (not available anywhere to view) was within 21 days.

Interestingly says down the bottom:

An Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platform has been set up by the European Commission to allow easy access to approved alternative dispute resolution (ADR) providers.

However, please note that with the exception of Germany, Qatar Airways is not currently obliged or prepared to submit to ADR, and therefore neither the ODR platform nor any Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved ADR provider will be able to accept your complaint without Qatar Airways' prior agreement.

The final result though:

- the air traffic controllers called off their strike
- my original flight was uncancelled
- I finally got a good CSR who put me back on my original flights (this wasn;t going to happen automatically)
- with my original seats

So AWTEW. Smiley face emoji. I suspect the flight, which is rarely full in the first place, will by now be more than half-empty anyway.
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